Regardless of whether you have a New Year’s resolution or not, as December comes to an end it’s only natural to reflect back on the year that has passed.
REALNESS: The weeks leading up to December 31st are often the most difficult for me emotionally. I tend to be hard on myself every so often and the natural nostalgia that comes along with yet another year coming to a close brings that side of me to the surface. 2013 + 2014 had their blessings but they were by no means “easy” years for me. Trying my best to keep balancing my work and personal life has been fun but exhausting. When you’re really busy, it’s easy to get caught up in day to day demands and lose sight of the bigger picture. I made the decision to spend the final two weeks of the year, enjoying just living without deadlines for a moment and getting clear about what I really want to do and how.
New Year’s Resolutions Never Work
Maybe that’s a dramatic statement, but I feel like most people forget about their resolutions within the first few weeks of the New Year. I believe in starting your New Year’s resolutions (or any goals in general) ASAP, not waiting for the first of the year, the first of the month, the first day of the week, etc. START AS SOON AS YOU CAN and you can almost always do SOMETHING in ANY MOMENT that can move you forward.
The Beginning is the Hardest Part
When you’re starting something new you’ve got a metaphoric blank page staring back at you. Anyone that has ever tried to sit down and write something knows that while a blank page can be exciting, it can also be very intimidating. So, I came up with a new method that I’m going to test out in 2015 and I wanted to share it with you in case you wanted to try it with me.
Start From the End
The ending is always the best part. It’s what we stick around for. When you’re at the movies and you suddenly get the urge to pee, you calculate how much time before the end to decide if you can afford to wait for the movie to finish or not. So right now, we’re at the end of 2014. Make an account of the things that happened that you were proud of this year. Make a list of a handful of things (or more!) that made you happy and that you were glad you got to experience. Now, put yourself in the shoes of Future You, at the end of 2015. What do you want to have accomplished by then? What do you want to be working on at that point?
I’ve read somewhere that people usually overestimate what they can accomplish in 1 year but underestimate what they can in 5-10 years. Pick a few things (1-4) you would like to have accomplished in a year. Think about this and list them on a paper. Keep this somewhere you can see often. I recommend turning this list into a kind of bookmark of sorts for your planner/focus book.
Take out your planner and open up to December 2015. Find a space somewhere to list what you would be working on (this can be personally or professionally!) in a year from now. Then work your way backwards. Maybe you won’t be able to come up with notes for every single month, but maybe every 2-3 you’ll have some notes of where you’d like to be in the journey. Depending on your goals, you might get to be more or less specific. The point is to get a clear idea of where you want to be in a year. It’ll make the how part easier to figure out and plan for.
Working backwards is far more compelling that starting anew. While variety and surprise are important, as humans, we still like to have some idea of where we’re heading for the most part. For so many of us, starting something new can be exciting and terrifying but by picturing the outcome we’re going for first and bringing ourselves back to the present, we give ourselves a better sense of direction. I remember so many Law of Attraction books talking about the importance of “focusing on the end result.”
So for 2015, I started by coming up with a handful of things I’d like to work on and achieve in the year and then I opened up my planner to the last month of 2015 and placed a little post-it note on top of the calendar letting myself know what I need to be focusing on in that month. I flipped to November, October, September, and so forth, and did the same thing. By deciding “here’s where I want to be and what I want to be doing, this thing needs to happen before, and then this thing, and then this thing…” and working backwards, the vision seems to be much clearer. It’s also opened up my mind to thinking a bit differently from what it’s been used to for the past almost 25 years of my life. Clarity & breaking out of the comfort zone/thinking a bit outside of the box can do wonders for bringing you more of what you want out of life.
I hope this post has given you some inspiration. If any of you give it a try, feel free to tweet me @jessicaharlow or let me know on instagram #backwardsresolution. I’d love to know how it’s working for you and how you feel about it!
P.S. As promised, here are a 29-year-old Marilyn Monroe’s list of New Year’s Resolutions that she had scribbled down in her leather-bound & monogrammed personal diary/address book. These photos & the list come from the book Fragments which reveals a lot of bits and pieces of Marilyn’s poetry, intimate notes, etc. It’s definitely worth a look if you’re a fan of hers.
“Must make effort to do
Must have the dicipline to do the following –
z — go to class — my own always — without fail
x — go as often as possible to observe Strassberg’s other private classes
g — never miss actor’s studio sessions
v — work whenever possible — on class assignments — andalways keep working on the acting exercises
u — start attending Clurman lectures — also Lee Strassberg’s directors lectures at theater wing — enquire about both
l — keep looking around me — only much more so —observing — but not only myself but others and everything — take things (it) for what they (it’s) are worth
y — must make strong effort to work on current problems and phobias that out of my past has arisen — making much much much more more more more more effort in my analisis. And be there always on time — no excuses for being ever late.
w — if possible — take at least one class at university — in literature –
o — follow RCA thing through.
p — try to find someone to take dancing from — body work (creative)
t — take care of my instrument — personally & bodily (exercise)
try to enjoy myself when I can — I’ll be miserable enough as it is.”
Xx with love & magic,